STLtoday.com Loses President, 15 Staffers

By: Carl Sullivan

Originally published Jan. 22. Updated at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 24

STLtoday.com, the Web site for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is laying off 15 workers as the site’s chief executive resigns and as Pulitzer may be considering consolidation of its newspaper and online divisions in St. Louis.

Colette Hogan, president and CEO of STLtoday.com LLC, a Pulitzer subsidiary, told E&P that she chose to leave the company Feb. 1. Hogan said her resignation would help save other jobs in the division.

“We didn’t make our revenue goals last year and we cut expenses through the year,” she said. “We realized we had to make more cuts and since I’m not from St. Louis and I’m not leaving family behind here, I decided it was right for me to make this decision.

“I’ve got opportunities elsewhere, including in my hometown of Chicago,” she added.

Hogan hinted that Pulitzer may consolidate its separate online subsidiary with the Post-Dispatch subsidiary and Suburban Journals, Pulitzer’s weekly newspaper group. “To realize efficiencies, you need to consider consolidation,” she said.

Post-Dispatch Publisher Terry Egger confirmed that various options are being considered. “We’re going to scan the industry and find out where some of the best things are happening,” he told E&P. “It’s pretty open as to what the final structure will be, but we are absolutely committed to STLtoday and to the portal strategy. Pulitzer is not going to pull out of that.”

Pulitzer scrapped the newspaper’s old Web site, postnet.com, last year when it launched STLtoday.com, a regional portal. Egger said the company was committed to the brand, but added, “Going forward, the key for us is looking at all the key resources we have in St. Louis with the Suburban Journals and the Post-Dispatch, and focusing on how we leverage those relationships a little better.”

While STLtoday hasn’t made money, it has grown its audience. Page views went up and the site has a whopping 36.5% penetration rate among Internet users in the St. Louis market. Only Yahoo! has a higher penetration, according to Hogan.

During the transition, STLtoday will be run by Paul West, director of business development, and Eric Seider, director of Internet systems.

STLtoday.com had about 100 employees in July 2000, Hogan said. A year later, the division was down to about 65 workers. Yesterday’s cuts leave the group with 44 staffers.

Egger points out that some of the earlier cuts were made when the company closed its Internet Service Provider (ISP) business. Overall, Pulitzer made a big investment in the site, he said. “We really went after it pretty aggressively, but we’ve unfortunately had to pare back when the revenue flow wasn’t what we anticipated.”

Hogan was a marketing executive for Time Warner Inc. and the Chicago Tribune before she joined Pulitzer in June 2000. She said she may go into the consulting business. “I don’t want to work for a newspaper,” Hogan joked. On a more serious note, she added, “The Internet really fascinates me. That’s where I want to continue working.”

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